Hope everyone is able to get some well-deserved rest this break! As for me, I am trying to catch up with a LOT of reading. I'm going to share with you what's on my reading list for this Holiday Break. It's a fairly diverse range of books in education, personal finance, and marketing & user experience. My goal is to get through at least 3 of these books in the next week and a half.
I already made some decent headway and gotten halfway through 3 books so far. Fingers crossed I'll be able to finish them!
I started reading The Revolution about a month ago and so far it's been an interesting book. It's definitely giving me some ideas on how I might want to reorganize my class next year, especially how I want to make my classroom into one that empowers our students. In some ways, it'll probably take some social engineering, which is something interesting to think about.
I'm teaching 100% virtually so Why Learn History seems completely relevant given our current circumstances. Distance teaching really got me thinking, "How is my teaching going to be any different than me assigning students a Crash Course video?" There's way more to history than just memorizing names, dates, and facts. What can I do that makes it worthwhile online? Really I should be phrasing it as, " Why do we have history class when I can just get everything online?" Hoping for some great insight.
PERSONAL FINANCE READS
I teach Economics, which I have gradually shifted towards a Personal Finance-heavy class. In California, Economics is taken during senior year. Oftentimes, I hear students complain, "How come school doesn't teach us how to do taxes or what credit cards are?" Guess what? I asked myself the same question when I started #Adulting. Everything that I know is self-taught. My parents didn't know how to teach me personal finance. I'll share the story of how I disciplined myself sometime down the line. My students can't complain school didn't teach them in the future. They just didn't pay attention.
I cover a lot of personal finance topics in my class, such as banking (online, credit unions, etc.), credit/debit cards, taxes, moving out, budget tracking, building credit, inflation, etc. I find myself covering investing and retirement accounts more and more every year as I grasp more of it myself. I started my Roth IRA and 403b the past two years; that gave me some comfort and confidence in teaching students what IRAs and retirement accounts are.
Also, 2020 has been a crazy year in the stock market! Have you looked at Tesla stock?! It's grown well over 600% year to date!!! 670% at the time of writing. The few thousand dollars I invested in Tesla has grown nearly 400%. Apple has doubled this year. Seeing this crazy growth has gotten me very interested in learning more and that will get passed down to my students.
I've already been dabbling the last few years, but my understanding was fairly rudimentary. I see teaching students how to invest and manage their money a form of economic justice. Financial literacy should very much be a mandatory course in schools.
Keeping money in savings is pointless as long as it can't beat the inflation rate, which has averaged around 3% the past 80 years. Currently it is around 1.2%. We lose money by keeping our money in a savings account! Also, through the process of teaching them investing, I can become a better investor myself.
Below are my personal finance reads for this break. Hopefully I'll be able to get much from them that I can bring back to my students:
MARKETING & USER EXPERIENCE BOOKS
I always find business books totally relevant to teaching. Every single year during Back-to-School Night, I would welcome parents to what I call my "sales pitch." I only have about 7 minutes with them and I have 7 minutes to convince them that their child is in good hands. What product am I pitching to them? Our curriculum. And who are our customers? Our students and the parents/guardians, to a certain extent. As much as we hate to think of education like a commodity, I can't help but relate it that way due to my past life in marketing; it brings me that mindset. There's always plenty to takeaway from these books. What can I do to make my curriculum and content more appealing and relevant to my students? Hopefully Contagious: Why Things Catch On will give me some insight.
As for the other book, I'm just trying to improve on the user experience for you and other visitors on my website. I also run two other websites and I build websites on the side. Just hoping to make those sites better in the long run. I'll eventually migrate this website to another host. This current one is lacking in many features, but I'm stuck with this one because I paid 3 years of hosting in advance. My contract is coming up in Spring 2021 though. Anyways, perhaps some takeaways will also help me make lessons and assignments more approachable and engaging to my students. I'll share my findings down the line.
I have a few more books on my list, but I'll start small and try to finish these 6 books first. I'm already halfway through The Revolution, Invested, and Don't Make Me Think so I'm making decent progress so far.
What is on your reading list?
Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!
I'm Jayson, a high school social science teacher with a strong passion for social justice and public education issues.